To bring to the notice of the state education ministry, the teachers of night schools in the city Thursday raised several issues such as lower salaries, vacant posts, lack of staff, stationery and dilapidated infrastructure. They claimed that they are being paid 1/4th of the salary as compared to teachers in day schools even though they are doing the same amount of work.
There are 120 state-run night schools in Mumbai and around 130 in the rest of Maharashtra which function from 6:30 pm to 10 pm. These schools function for students in Class 5 to 8, some for Class 8 to 10 and remaining for Class 8 to 12 under the name of night colleges.
Darshana Pandav, a teacher in a night school at Sion, said: “We are just three teachers managing the entire school from Class 5 to 10.” Another teacher, on request of anonymity, said, “If teachers of day schools are getting paid Rs 60,000 per month, we are getting paid just Rs 20,000. Why are we being paid so less despite putting in the same efforts?”
There are over 4,000 students studying in city night schools for free. Pandav added that these students come from weak economic background and often do odd jobs during the day. “These students want to complete their basic education as they work during the day and find time to study only at night. How will the students study if there are no teachers? The state has not appointed teachers, peons and other non-teaching staff despite vacant posts,” said Pandav.
Students should receive financial aid for books, board examination fees and stationery, demanded the teachers. Niranjan Lahane, another teacher, said, “Students of Class 1 to 8 get free books under the Sarva Shikshan Abhiyan scheme, but some of this do not reach the students. Students of Class 9 and 10 have to buy books and other stationeries. Also, they have to pay the Secondary School Certificate (SSC) board examination fees on their own. These students are from below poverty line (BPL) families who work throughout the day to make a living; the state should provide financial aid to them.”
Teachers demanded the state education ministry to give importance to night schools. Varsha Gaikwad, state school education minister, said, “We have directed the education officials to check the issues and resolve them at the earliest. Night schools are important for students.”